The Court of Appeal of Qatar has reduced the death sentence given to the eight retired Indian Navy officers days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Emir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani
New Delhi: In a major relief for eight former Indian Naval officers on death row in Qatar, the death sentence of all convicts was commuted on Thursday.
The commutation of death sentence of all ex-Naval officers comes as a big diplomatic victory for India. Notably, India had mounted a big diplomatic pressure on the Qatar leadership and harnessed all its options for their release.
The major reprieve for the ex-Navymen comes days after the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad, on the sidelines of COP-28 meeting in Dubai.
Reports suggest that the sentencing of all former Indian Naval officers was reduced by a Qatari court today, as it concurred with the arguments put out by the Indian side.
For the unversed, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has been pursuing the case of 8 Indian ex-naval officers with Qatar counterparts and pushing for their release for quite sometime.
Earlier this month, consular access was allowed by the Qatari administration. Indian envoy met the ex-naval officers on death row and took stock of their well-being in jail.
The veteran officers, who served in the Indian Navy for long and then opted for a private assignment in Qatar were imprisoned last year on charges of espionage and after spending a year in jail, they were awarded death penalty.
India has maintained that the naval officers are upright Indian citizens and there was some conspiracy behind their imprisonment.
“Either the ex-officers were being made scapegoats or some vested interests was at play,” the Indian side repeatedly said countering charges against them.
Sentence commuted, hopes on for their pardoning
As the capital punishment of all Indian officers stands cancelled, the next step is pardoning of their punishment.
Experts in the MEA inform that the Qatar Emir has the powers to pardon any convict and India should now push for consideration of this case before him.
All these 8 ex-Navymen were engaged with a private company in Qatar and were providing training to its armed forces but some conspiracy was hatched against them to penalize them.
It may be noted that the nature of allegations & framing of charges against them never became public and the matter has always remained shrouded in secrecy since their accusation.